We’ve just come off of one of the best weekends we’ve enjoyed in a long time; it was one of those weekends where even though there were many items on my ‘to-do’ list, I was successful in setting it all aside and forced myself to just ‘be’. But it was hard.
Like many of you, I found myself in a place where nearly every moment of every day, 7 days a week, had been scheduled – scheduled with work, with projects, with ‘must-accomplish-cannot-rest-until-it’s-done’ projects; work that demanded my time, house projects that were never completed and little time or energy left over for The Professor or our married life. And our marriage wasn’t in trouble, isn’t in trouble – but we both know how quickly that can change so we have always been very intentional about having time for each other, for us – and lately, there hasn’t been.
About four weeks ago, I began working with a Life Coach because I am working on a small project about Midwest pies and their bakers – because life suddenly seemed very complicated, I needed help in establishing a plan for completing the project and all that was involved: interviews, testing recipes and writing. But somewhere in the midst of those weekly meetings, it became clear that I wasn’t connecting with what was going on around me, I was missing those moments of being awestruck by nature or simply by being aware enough of my surroundings that I notice a tiny honeybee stopping to catch a drink from the fountain in the pond. It had been a year since I’d read a book; two years since The Professor and I actually had a date at a movie theater complete with popcorn and something to drink; I said to my Life Coach last week, ‘It’s June and I have no idea how I got here.’ That was my wakeup call.
Friday afternoon I announced, ‘Let’s go to a movie and go all-in – popcorn and everything, the whole deal.’ We saw ‘Chef’ and had a great time – and we were up way past our usual bedtime. We still had commitments but I’m taking that first step by being a little less structured and a little more spontaneous; I’m setting a goal to work our same hours during the week – but not working through the weekend with no downtime. I need time in my garden, to pull weeds, dig in the dirt; I need time to read books and cook in my kitchen for the sheer joy of simply being in the kitchen to create. I need to give myself permission to sit on my chaise lounge on the porch and watch our Koi glide back and forth under the water, or watch the hummingbirds speed in and out at the feeders – because for me, those small moments are what fill me, inspire me and help push me towards my best work. It’s these moments that help me to breathe.
All work and no play makes for a very dull, cranky and uninspired Debra – for the next couple of weeks, my plan is for no work on the weekend; then I’ll tackle the ‘no social media’ during the weekend. I’d like to get to a place where I might have lunch with a few friends during the week or meet for coffee or join a bookclub and definitely more weekend dates-away-from-home with The Professor.
I’m bringing spontaneous back – one weekend at a time.
This is one of those rich and decadent pasta dishes that tastes like it should be full of cream but isn’t – and while it’s vegetarian, this dish is every bit as luscious as it’s pancetta-filled counterpart. A raw egg yolk is added to each plate separately and stirred into hot pasta, thus ‘soft-cooking’ the yolk; however, raw egg is not recommended for infants, the elderly or pregnant mothers. The Professor and I will be making this one again – it’s definitely a keeper!
GLUTEN-FREE TAGLIATELLE WITH SHIITAKES AND ASPARAGUS
ever-so-slightly-adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine
- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, cut into 2” pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8-ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 12-ounces dried gluten-free Tagliatelle (Jovial is my always my choice)
- ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 4 large egg yolks*
- Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add asparagus, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate
- Heat butter and remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil in same skillet over medium-high heat; add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing often, until tender, about 5 minutes
- Add shallot and cook, tossing occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes; add in oregano, thyme, and the sauteed asparagus
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente – about 7-8 minutes; drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid
- Add pasta, ½ cup pasta cooking liquid, and 3/4 cup Parmesan to skillet; cook, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta – about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper
- Divide pasta among plates and top each with yolks and more Parmesan
- Serve immediately and break the yolks into the hot pasta, allowing the yolk to cook from the heat of the pasta